HomeEnrollment Management SolutionsStudent SuccessRNL Retention Management System™Second-Year Student Assessment

For students entering their second year
at four-year and two-year colleges and universities

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Find out how to curb the “sophomore slump” on your campus, or assess the needs of transfer students

Ensuring the persistence of second-year students and transfer students is a continuing challenge for two-year and four-year colleges and universities. To retain these students, you must meet their specific needs and keep them engaged.

The online, 68-item Second-Year Student Assessment (see sample) carefully assesses the non-cognitive, motivational needs of second-year students, providing a wealth of data to guide student retention planning. The resulting data:

  • Identifies the specific needs of at-risk, second-year students and transfer students, including their level of engagement, commitment to college, and receptivity to assistance from advisors, academic support offices, career counselors, and other campus services.
  • Prioritizes sophomore and transfer student engagement strategies by equipping you to design or update campus services to match the interests and concerns of your cohorts.
  • Compares students’ receptivity to assistance in their second year vs. their use of campus services in the previous year.
  • Pinpoints the college completion plans of students: You learn which students expect to complete their degrees at your campus, transfer to another institution, or are unsure of their plans for the next term.
  • Determines which campus services students utilize the most.

See samples of the assessments and reports

“The Second-Year Student Assessment (SYSA) has allowed us to identify the challenges facing our sophomore students and has provided us with information we can use to develop appropriate programs and resources for these students.”

—Ellen Nagy, Ph.D.,
Director of Faculty Student Advising,
Heidelberg University (OH)

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Have a question about the Second-Year Student Assessment, or about student retention strategies?

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 Or call 1-800-876-1117 and ask to speak to our student retention strategists.

Learn how to use the SYSA to:

  • Identify which second-year students are at risk and receptive to assistance.
  • Create a strong transition from the first to second year of college.
  • Make retention strategies more effective and efficient by basing them on reliable student data.

Timing: The survey is designed to be administered prior to, during, or immediately following the first term of the second year of college. Institutions may choose to administer the survey as early as the end of the freshman year. The instrument can also be used with third-year transfer students, near the beginning of their third year.

See a sample of the survey and its resulting reports for individual students, advisors/counselors, and the cohort summary reports. As soon as students complete the survey, you can begin intervening the next day: An online dashboard equips you to analyze the findings, plan interventions, and communicate with students.

Measures receptivity to assistance along with students’ areas of strength and challenge

Students need approximately 20 minutes to complete the online Second-Year Student Assessment. The assessment includes 27 motivation questions and tracks motivational data across seven scales:

  • Academic Confidence
  • Commitment to College
  • Engaged Learning
  • Leadership
  • Financial Security
  • Transition
  • Family Support

In addition, 13 items examine students’ satisfaction with their college experience, such as:

  • Interactions with instructors, academic advisors, and other students
  • Variety of majors, course availability, and academic challenge
  • Availability of opportunities and activities related to major and career interests

The survey also closely examines student receptivity to assistance, examining not only each student’s current receptivity in 15 areas, but also the student’s levels of participation in these 15 areas during the previous year of college, providing information to strengthen second-year and first-year programs.

The survey works well with students at two-year institutions and at four-year colleges and universities. In addition, an optional feature of the assessment allows you to add up to 10 custom items to the survey that are specific to your campus.

Focus interventions more precisely

All of the information collected by the Second-Year Student Assessment is available to you immediately in our secure, password-protected online dashboard, the Retention Data Center. There you will see the resulting reports revealing student motivation, needs, interests, and satisfaction, and you will find a wealth of data to guide your retention planning. You will learn which students need the greatest assistance and which campus services are most in demand, allowing you to make informed interventions.

To help you focus and prioritize your campus outreach to sophomores, the Second-Year Student Assessment includes the following, informative, built-in reports:

  • Summary and Planning Report (see PDF sample): Offers a concise, summary picture of the needs of your sophomore class and/or transfer students to guide your retention planning. This cohort report summarizes all of the findings from the assessment, including motivation scales, receptivity, and institutional impression (satisfaction) items, and demographic items. The report identifies the usage of campus services and includes outreach lists with the names of specific students.
  • Student Report (see PDF sample): Offers a clear, non-technical explanation of each individual student’s motivational assessment, including the student’s strengths and areas that might benefit from attention. The report details the student’s receptivity to assistance in five key areas, alongside your institution’s specific sources of assistance. The student’s self-reported needs and interests serve as an immediate action plan.
  • Advisor/Counselor Report (see PDF sample): Provides a detailed, item-by-item breakdown of each student’s demographic information and motivational assessment, including strengths, needs, satisfaction, and receptivity to assistance.

You can create custom reports of your choosing using the dashboard’s robust tools. Also, you can customize the Student Report to include specific contact information (room numbers, phone numbers, etc.) to refer students to specific sources of assistance on your campus.

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